INDEPENDENCE, Kan. - Over a week since their last game, the Independence Lady Pirates hosted the Ottawa Braves looking to build on what was taken away from their last outing. Both games were close and action packed, but in the end two victories were claimed for Independence 7-5 and 6-4 for the first two wins of Coach Sam Allen's career at Independence.
"It definitely feels great to get the sweep today," coach Sam Allen said. "It's been rough not being outside since the last game, but the defense didn't look bad and we left some runners on, but we got some big hits in key moments tonight to drive in some runs for us."
"The heart of our lineup is really improving with the bottom starting to come around as well. We had some players out today, so it was nice to I know that we could go to our bench and have success. We just have to keep improving every day for the next opponent."
In game one, the first inning saw a walk to Alicia Rhodes and Hailey Crowder reach base on an error. The Braves attempted a double steal, but Rhodes was thrown out at third for the first out and a strikeout for Jennifer Dunagan made it two outs with a runner at second. A walk to Nicole Pierick and a double steal put Ottawa in position to score with runners at second and third. The Braves got on the Board as a bloop single scored Pierick, but that was all as a flyout to Cassi Smith ended the frame with Ottawa leading the game 1-0.
The Lady Pirates got things going with a single from Kiersten Brown, but a fielder's choice after an at bat by Brianna Hollis saw Brown thrown out at second. A single from Cheyenne Bryant sent Hollis to third and Independence had runners at the corners and a pass ball later sent Bryant to second before a walk to Kayla Broncho loaded the bases with Cameron Ortiz coming to the plate. Ortiz singled bringing in Hollis to tie the game at 1-1, but that was all as two straight outs ended the inning.
In the second inning, a walk to Whitney Kraus and Brandi Cayler put runners on for Ottawa before Kraus was caught stealing third and Cayler was thrown out on a fielder's choice. A groundout to third ended the frame with the Lady Pirates coming to the plate looking to build off a scoreless outing in the field.
A one-out single for Smith gave Independence a runner and a single for Brown put two on with Hollis approaching the plate. A fielder's choice saw the second out of the inning giving the Lady Pirates runners at the corners before a steal by Hollis and an infield fly error put Bryant on first and scoring Smith for Broncho who grounded out and Independence led 2-1.
The third inning began with a strikeout from Jennifer Dunagan to retire the first batter and a flyout to Hollis for the second out. The Braves got a runner on, but a strikeout retired the side with Ortiz leading off the bottom half.
Ortiz grounded out, but a deep hit to center field had Meriah Richardson on second and she moved to third with one out after a single by Madison Hartley. A walk to Alli Price loaded the bases with one out for Smith, but Richardson was thrown out at home for the second out. A hit by Brown scored Hartley for the 3-1 lead and a hit from Hollis scored Price and Smith and a hit by Pitch loaded the bases again for Broncho, but a popup to the shortstop ended the inning with a 5-1 lead for the Lady Pirates.
In the fourth inning, a flyout to Brown in centerfield retired the first batter before a double by Kraus who scored on a double by Cayler and a double from Casey Esquivel scored another run making it 5-3 Independence. The Braves tied the game up after a two-run home run from Alicia Rhodes and the Lady Pirates made a pitching change to Gabby Horton who struck out the first batter. Horton walked the next batter and a hit by Kylee Weber had runners at the corners, but a strikeout ended the frame with the game tied at 5-5.
For Independence, the inning began with Ortiz reaching first after a hit by pitch and moving to second after a pass ball. A walk to Richardson gave the Lady Pirates two base runners and an error at first put Hartley on loading the bases before three straight outs were recorded.
The fifth inning began with a strikeout for Horton before a walk put a runner on, but the second out was recorded with a popup to Ortiz. A popup to Richardson retired the side with Hollis leading off for the Lady Pirates.
Hollis beat out a throw to first to leadoff with a single but a throw to second got her out before a walk to Bryant bringing up Broncho who delivered a two-run home run for a 7-5 lead through the remainder of the inning.
"It feels great to get two wins today with my teammates," said Broncho. "All the work we put in the last week really paid off, but we'll just continue that to keep the momentum going throughout the season."
In the sixth inning, only one runner for the Braves got on base as the Lady Pirates came to bat looking for some insurance runs. Independence went three and out leading to the seventh inning up, 7-5.
The seventh inning saw a strikeout on the first batter but an error in right field awarded first base to Katy Blanchard. Back to back popups put the game away and the Lady Pirates were victorious for the first time in the Sam Allen Coaching Era.
In game two, the first inning saw a strikeout by Elizabeth Mensink take down the first batter and a popup to Hartley made two outs before a groundout retired the side. The Lady Pirates got a double to right from Broncho with two outs, but a strikeout kept it scoreless.
In the second inning, it was a quick first two outs before the Braves got runners at second and third, but a strikeout ended the threat heading to the home half for Independence. An error off the glove of the second baseman got Bryant on at first but a stand for the Braves kept the game tied up at 0-0.
The third inning saw a 1-2-3 affair for the Braves as they went down in order, but it was the same in the home half and the game continued being a scoreless affair.
In the fourth inning, the Braves threatened again, but the defensive play of Bryant, Richardson and Mensink kept Ottawa off the board as the Lady Pirates returned to the plate. Independence put two runners aboard and to the corners on a two-out pass ball, but a popup ended the threat as the game remained at 0-0.
The fifth inning began with the Braves loading the bases with one out, but the wheeling and dealing of Mensink kept them stranded. A hit by pitch put Hartley on first to begin the half before a fielder's choice after an at bat from Theresa Johnson, but a hit from Brown moved Johnson into scoring position at second after a single. A single from Hollis loaded the bases for Broncho who scored Johnson and Brown with a double up the middle giving Independence a 2-0 lead. The Lady Pirates brought two more in to score with two outs as a single by Bryant plated Hollis and Broncho before the final out of the inning with a 4-0 lead for Independence.
In the sixth, a one-out double for Blanchard put a runner in scoring position for the Braves, but a dynamic play in the outfield by Smith left the Lady Pirates unscathed before coming to bat. A deep double to left center by Hartley followed by a single for Johnson gave Independence runners at the corners and a single for Brown scored the run from third extending the Lady Pirates' lead to 5-0 before scoring another run off the bat of Broncho. Independence loaded the bases, but an out at third ended any further damage as the Lady Pirates headed to the final inning with a 6-0 lead.
Ottawa began with three straight singles and a grand slam by Kraus cut the lead to two at 6-4. The Braves continued with a single, but three straight outs ended the game as the Lady Pirates swept the day.
Independence (2-2) is back in action Wednesday February 27 traveling to Neosho, Mo. To face the Crowder Roughriders at 2 pm and 4 pm.